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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka industries grumble over latest electricity tariff hike 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s energy intensives firms say they are struggling to face the latest electricity tariff hike amid worries over losing competitiveness.

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has raised the tariff by 66 percent with effect from February 15 after a dragged clash between the CEB and the power regulator, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL).

“Already the Prices are up and we don’t actually know whether we might go for an increment or we are going to stay at the same price for now,” Ishaq Muzzammil, the Managing Director of tile manufacturer Marcopolo told EconomyNext.

“We are already planning out because if you take our category, we are into a high business market product. So, already our prices are expensive compared to the normal tiles. Increasing the prices again is not a good idea. We have to squeeze our margins.”

Analysts say manufacturers of chemicals, iron & steel, food & beverages, cement, tiles, and paper are hit by the latest move very much.

Many of the manufacturers cannot pass the price to consumers as disposable income has sharply fallen with the recent tax hike. Increasing prices would discourage customers from buying the products, some manufacturers say.

Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers Association (LCMA) President S.D. Suriyakumar said the latest price hike “will definitely have a direct effect”

“But we have not yet calculated how it is going to go around. But whatever it is, even if it is going by 10 percent that will definitely have a direct rate effect and a bearing from our operators,” Suriyakumar said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government already raised electricity prices by more than 60 percent last year to prevent the collapse of loss-making CEB.

The latest price hike comes as the CEB raised fixed costs for lower and medium level electricity consumers along with the electricity units.

The tariff hike along with over 80 percent inflation has resulted in a chaotic market in the country as the authorities failed to maintain stable prices of goods and services.

“I can say that the business would collapse,” N.K Jayawardena, President Chairman of the All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association told EconomyNext.

“We can’t invest now. We have to borrow to pay such high electricity tariffs. We just have to look at it and see what will happen to us,” Jayawardena said.

The Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara on Thursday said the CEB will now ensure uninterrupted power supply as the latest electricity tariff hike has been approved by the regulator the PUCSL. (Colombo/Feb16/2023)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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